“Groomer” is the New Dog Whistle Embraced by Republicans

Ignited by Ron DeSantis’s new “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Republicans are using an old dog whistle and scare tactic in a nod to QAnon followers by calling Democrats “groomers.”

DeSantis’s press secretary defended the law, dragging out homophobic rhetoric from previous decades that tried to portray the LGBTQ community as “child predators.”

Examples of political slander flourished.

  • Marjorie Taylor Green was on board, tweeting, “Democrats are the party of killing babies, grooming and transitioning children, and pro-pedophile politics.”
  • Fox News host Laura Ingraham said, “When did our public schools, any schools, become what are essentially grooming centers for gender identity radicals?”
  • Conservative podcast host Jack Posobiec urged Twitter followers to buy t-shirts with a Disney logo that said, “Boycott Groomers, bring ammo.”

Even Diet Coke Don Jr. came out of hiding from the DOJ yesterday to rant about “grooming” of “impressionable minds” in public schools.

The word “grooming” — which has long been associated with mischaracterizing LGBTQ people, particularly gay men and transgender women, as child sex abusers — was mentioned on Twitter 7,959 times on March 29, the day after Florida’s education bill was signed into law, compared with just 40 times on the first day of this year…

Scott Hadland, the chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Harvard Medical School, called the law and the recent rhetoric surrounding it “fear-based.”

“I’ve cared for, in my more than a decade of clinical practice, hundreds of kids who identify as LGBTQ and the number of times that somebody has shared with me that they came to understand their development because they were convinced to become LGBTQ by a teacher, or another community member, or a physician is exactly zero,” Hadland said. “This does not happen. This is not how young people establish their identities.”

NBC, FiveThirtyEight